Propaganda: Discrediting Leaders as a Hybrid War Device

“President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and eight senior military commanders, a provocative step designed to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic. “

Trump Sanctions Iran’s Supreme Leader in Provocative Move by Saleha Mohsin, Shannon Pettypiece and David Wainer

It’s hard to know what personal resources the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the military commanders targeted by these sanctions own outside Iran that may be affected by these measures. Estimates of the Ayatollah’s wealth vary wildly from the US$500 thousand (CelebrityNetWorth.com in 2018) to the US$95 billion (Reuters in 2013 and TopRichets.com in 2019) and now the US$200 billion claimed by the US embassy in Baghdad.

“Khamenei, who was initially elected president of the nascent republic in 1981, has “possessions” valued at an estimated at $200 billion, according to a Facebook post by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in April.”

Suffice to say, given the constant flow of propaganda that has been projected against Iran since the 1979 revolution, none of these sources can in anyway be taken as credible accountings of the Ayatollah’s real wealth – least of all the US embassy in Baghdad during a period when the propaganda is rising to high pitch and the US war drums are beating loud.

But that is surely not the point. A major part in announcing these sanctions is the inherent implication that Iran’s leaders have large personal financial assets outside the country that can be sanctioned. This sub-text is designed to discredit these leaders in the eyes of people in the west and also their own population. It fits the corrupt self interested despot narrative that demonises leaders of the US’s target nations.

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